Thursday, December 8, 2011

Mini Chocolate Pecan Pies, thanks to Oh NUTS!

OK, first up that fair up front announcement, the very good folks at Oh Nuts! made me an offer I could not refuse....


Click the Logo to view their home page!
I have been doing business with Oh Nuts for a few years now.  ALWAYS the best quality (Take a look at the pecans in the photo above, HUGE, arriving in excellent condition.  I am especially drawn to their pecans and walnuts.  Not only tasty, but make beautiful accent garnishes.  They make the food look just as good as they taste!

Shipping is fast, quality is EXCELLENT and prices are actually below the super market prices (especially if you sign up for their eMail mailing list and take advantage of their free shipping offers they send out on occasion).

I made these mini pies based on a recipe I saw Carla Hall make on an episode of The Chew.

OK, if you saw the episode (well, actually, if you read the title of this post), right away you noticed that either I have giant chocolate chips and giant pecans OR I made chocolate pecan tarts instead of a pie.

Because... well, portion control.  I LOVE a pecan pie.  Never had it with this much chocolate mixed in, but I was sure I was going to love it.  But it is awfully fattening.  Making them this size, I was able to control the size and as long as I have the will power to only eat one, well...moderation.  Since each little tart is about 3 good size bites, I even didn't feel too guilty when i had a little bit of pumpkin pie along side.

And besides, they photograph so nicely...

And, besides the size, I made an additional change that you probably saw in the first photo in the above series... Bourbon in place of vanilla.  First, the alcohol does cook out, leaving a deep rich earthy taste behind. Besides pure vanilla extract is actually mostly alcohol anyway.  In a pecan pie, I just like Maker's mark in place of vanilla.  Just one more layer of flavor.

Alright, first up is a pie crust recipe.  I am constantly on the look out for a new pie crust recipe.  I have tried several, but never could quite get one as good as my Mother-in-Law's.  So, I phoned her and tried hers for the first time.

Lard.    Shhh it's the secret ingredient that only grandmother's know.

So, My Mother-inLaw's Pie Crust recipe first...

Makes 2 pie crust, or one to freeze for later and one to cut into 6 tart size...

3 cups Flour
1 cup Lard
1 tsp Salt

Mix until crumbly.  Then mix together ...

1/4 cup Water 
1 Egg
1 tsp Vinegar

Combine, Divide and roll out, generously flour as you roll out.

OK, as I said, I was making tarts... tartlettes if you will.  SO I rolled one of the crusts out pretty thin.  I then took a large fluted edged round cookie cutter and made six circles.  I sprayed a muffin tin generously and placed the circles in the bottom of the tins.  This made a cup shape about 3/4 inch tall.

OK, in the recipe (that you can see on The Chew's website by clicking HERE), Carla made a pie.  I cut the recipe in half, had more than enough to make 6 tarts.  I also glazed the bottom with egg whites.

So, here's what I did.  The measurements are @1/2 what Carla used (But you should check her recipe if you are making pies)...

1/2 cup Corn Syrup (I only had white on hand, she advises dark)
1 TBS Butter softened to room temperature
1 tsp Corn Starch
1tsp Bourbon
1/2 cups Pecans, chopped
1/4 cup Whole Pecans for decoration
pinch of Salt
1/4 cup Sugar
2 Eggs, lightly beaten
2 tsp White Vinegar
1/4 cup Dark Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 375

  • Cream Butter and Sugar
  • Add Beaten Eggs 
  • Add Cornstarch, Salt, Bourbon, Vinegar and Corn Syrup, and now you have the pie filling
  • sprinkle a single layer of chocolate chips
  • sprinkle the pecan pieces
  • add the pie filling
  • Bake on center rack for 30 minutes
  • Add the garnish whole pecans
  • Return to the oven until center of filling reaches 200 degrees

And the verdict is that these were PERFECT!  An adult pie, let the kids have the pumpkin and cakes and sweets.  Rich, earthy,nutty taste.  Just a hint of the Bourbon and a very unique taste with the chocolate added!


Sunday, December 4, 2011

O Olive Oil Cooking Contest Underway - VOTE NOW!

This week is a big week fro some very talented bloggers!  The very good folks at O Olive Oil are partnering with to select a winner in a very special and even unique cooking contest.  Not only is there going to be a "winner" selected for the quality of the recipe submitted, but for the first time (that I know of), food bloggers are being judged and awarded prizes based on the quality of their food writing as well as a prize for best food styling/photography.

A part of the judging is up to you!  The true honor of any recipe is to be added to someone's recipe file as something that they may consider making themselves at a future date.  So, in order to determine a "winner", 1/3rd of the judging will be based on how many people add their recipe to their eRecipeBox maintained on

Setting up an electronic recipe box is very easy.  All you need is an email address and a password that you control.  Then, any recipe you see on home page can be stored with just a single click into your file.  And of course, from the same account you are able to submit a recipe blog post for others to enjoy.

To set up an account, follow the directions on our "Tour" page.  Step by step, easy to follow illustrated instructions will have you set up in minutes. Click HERE or the click the photo of the recipe box.

To find the recipes and the page to "Vote" for your favorite, Go to the Search page at the top of the home page (or click HERE).  Once there, type in OOLIVEOIL (all one word, all caps (easiest to cut and paste).

Here in no particular order are the recipes and the talented folks who are working so hard (and deserve your vote)...

Rainey from "The Project Table" has submitted ...
Meyer Lemon Cheesecake Champagne Vinegar Drizzle
Amy from "U Try It" has Submitted ...
Chicken Satay with Cucumber Relish

Evelyn from "Cheap Ethnic Eatz" has submitted ...
Vinegar Tarts and Olive Oil Ice Cream

Shari from "The Saucy Gourmet" has submitted ...
2 Salads made with O Olive Oil Products

Penny from "Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen" has submitted ...Pork tenderloin with Blood Orange Sauce with a Sweet Potato Salsa

Jessie from "Savory-Bites" has submitted ...
Clementine Olive Oil Ice Cream

Kristen from "Frugal Antics of a Harried Housewife" has submitted ...
Winter Grain Salad

And Last, But certainly NOT least...
Bobbi from "Bobbi's Kozy Kitchen" has submitted ...
Cilantro Lime Cod with Sherry Vinegar Reduction

OK, it is now up to you... Many of these are your blogging buddies and would appreciate your votes.  Many may be new to you, but their hard work should be rewarded with a vote...

And if you are interested in getting a bottle (or two or more) of O Olive Oil for yourself, in addition to supplying all of the prizes for the contest, are offering EVERYONE a 20% discount on any order made between now and December 31, 2011!!!

PLUS, it gets better, free shipping for all orders over $60 (after the discount).

Use Code "e-recipecards" for 20% Discount on O Olive Oil Plus Free Shipping on orders over $60

Saturday, November 12, 2011

eRecipeCards is the Cat's Meow

It's been awhile since I have done an update about

We started just 6 short months ago, and a lot has happened.  So first, just in case you are new... 

The place for FOOD BLOGGERS to see and to be seen, Collecting RECIPES from the hardest working cooks, pleasing the hardest to please every day - Their Families. Great RECIPES, pleasing FOOD STYLING, answering the age old question... WHAT's FOR DINNER

Let's review...

We are many things... A Food Porn site, dedicated to food stylists and food photographers.  Well, we are that.  Our layout provides the largest photos of any of the portals showing off food bloggers' work. We make you look better.

But wait, we're more... We are the only "inclusive" site.  We have two rules for your submissions.  They must be original photos, nothing lifted from a magazine or book.  If you cooked it and you photographed it, we want to include your work.  As to the recipe, you must provide original commentary.  meaning, it's fine if you cooked something from a book, magazine or other bloggers work.  Just be sure to give proper credit and have any deserving links added to your blog post.  If you have a suggestion to improve something, if you did something different, just provide original content/commentary on what you did, why you did that and what you think.  That's it, meet those criteria and no one judges the quality of your work.  We want to include your work.

And links... We go nuts with links!  Your photos link to your webs page.  The title of your blog post links back to your web page.  And your Web user name links everything back to a special page we maintain on our site dedicated just to the recipes that you submit.  Remember that all inclusiveness we brag about.  We are the site that really shows off your body of work...  Your entire body of work!

Which is important because when you submit, 

we do the leg work to get you seen and noticed.

Did you ever wonder how Google decides which posts appear in which order.  Pretty easy really, Google keeps score.  Whenever your blog link appears, like when you submit a recipe to, Google makes a mark on their big giant scorecard.  Submit every day and everyday you get a mark.  And that's you that gets the mark, you and your blog.  It is not a magic bullet that will leapfrog you into "prairie Woman" status, but in a year, you will be way ahead of the blogger who faithfully posts everyday but never promotes.  I am learning many more tricks to SEO, but this is the simplest and in the long run, most effective.  I f people talk about you (and when you submit, we talk about you), Google takes notice.

Let us help Google to help you get found!  Make us a habit whenever you post something new (and remember, we are inclusive, submit your top ten, all the posts you are most proud of, and we will put them out there to be found).

We have an easy submission process which allows you to Name your post, Direct readers to the page in your blog and select the photo to appear with your recipe.  There is a page on our website providing a step by step "how to Submit" instructional page.  Just click the blue letters, or the green "submit button" to see the graphics heavy instruction page on how to get started.  It is very easy and hundreds of bloggers make us a habit.

"TAGS" are as important as your photos.  Actually, tags are more important. in the long run.  Each night, we submit your tags to Google (and other search engines) for Search Engine Optimization (SEO).  For a basic understanding, click the blue letters to see what Wikipedia has to say about SEO.  But basically, we link your post to whatever keywords or tags you attach to the submission.
So, be sure to not only list the name of the dish, but main ingredients as well.  Maybe the dish is perfect for a "PICNIC", list that as a tag.  How about " HOLIDAYS", but also list which one... "4th of July" or "Thanksgiving".  And if it's a "Thanksgiving" dish, I am guessing you could add "Christmas" to the tags as well.  Are you using "Sweet Potatoes", be sure and do a separate tag for "Potatoes".  "Cheddar Cheese", be sure and list "Cheddar" as well as "Cheese".

One word of caution, we do check.  So please be sure that each tag is relevant.  We want you to submit every relevant tag.  We will submit these to Google with your links.  More is More in this case.  BUT, use only relevant tags.

And separate each tag with a comma.

Especially if you are new, you may need help to get started.  We are here.  And more importantly, we will stay here to get you started and active.  Any questions... Any problems... Any way that we can help you to look good, we stand by.  Your questions will always be answered with in 24 hours, but usually within an hour.

Like any software, it can be frustrating to learn.  But like most software, our "system" is logical and makes sense.  You just have to understand the logic.  We are here to help you master the software!

800 Members
10,000 Recipes and Growing
2,500 Visitors a day
Are you a part???

Really incredible statistics... The one I am most thrilled about, 2,500 people a day use our search feature to help answer the age old question, "What's for Dinner?". Over Labor Day weekend, over 2,000 peoplesearched for "Grilling" or "BBQ". Of those searching, they open 7.2 pages (meaning they look at 7 of your blogs/recipes) before making a choice! WORKS. People are finding recipes. People are finding your blogs!

So now is the time to post your Thanksgiving menu ideas.  Have you been blogging for over a year or for many years?  If so, you must have a great Turkey idea (How to Brine, Stuffing vs Dressing, Frying smoking or oven roasted)... How about the best Sweet Potatoes, dinner rolls or an amazing Pecan Pie!

If so, share them with the world via eRecipeCards.  Let your older posts be an asset to drive traffic to your site.

Give us a try... You'll be thrilled with the results!!!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Soup Recipe... I don't need no Stinkin Recipe

It's November... Cold, blustery... nasty.

None of the charm of a winter day, none of the hope of a spring day, none of the pleasures of a summer day and even though it is fall, November days have just a sad memory of the beauty of early fall.

So, let's make soup

All you need is Chicken Stock

Store bought or make your own (I love my rotisserie chicken, makes enough stock to get the chicken FREE)!

Cut up some vegetables...

Carrots and celery are always around my pantry.

Saute some onions in butter... just to get them soft and an easy way to add a bit of butter fat to the soup.

 Toss in some spices.  Of course I had me some of my "Not Your Grandmother's Herbes de Provence", but savory or spicy (at the end I added 1 tsp of "Big Easy in a Jar", my Cajun Mix just to add a tiny kick).

And add whatever meat leftovers you have.  Night before last, I made some Crock Pot Teriyaki Chicken.  I had 4 thighs left.  I tossed them in whole.  Once they simmered for an hour, the meat was easy to strip from the bone and shred...

Cause that's how easy it is to make soup.

Season to taste (this was the point I added just a single tsp of Cajun spices)

Maybe add a diced up Poblano Pepper for color and that nasty cloudy cold November day becomes tolerable.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Sweet Potato Grits and Shrimp ala Bobby Flay

Said it before, say it again... Bobby Flay is a genius.

At the risk of offending my southern friends, grits just ain't that good.  Just kind of bland.  But, with a little effort, grits can be seasoned and flavored to be Very Very good.  And with just a bit more effort, they can be extra ordinary.

Like these.

The recipe can be found in Bobby Flay's MESA GRILL COOKBOOK.  According to his introduction for the dish, "I can see this as a Sunday dinner with the family, with the grits piled in the middle of the plate, surrounded by the shrimp.  But the grits are so good, you could also serve them as a side dish for an elaborate meal." ...

Or a side dish for Thanksgiving dinner???

Here's what I did...

1 large Sweet Potato
2 TBS Canola Oil
1/2 Shallot, finely diced
4 cloves Garlic, smashed and minced
2 1/2 cups Chicken Stock
1 cup whole Milk
2 tsp pureed Chipotle Chile in Adobe Sauce
   (yes, from the can, into the mini chopper to puree)

pinch Kosher Salt
1 1/2 cups quick cooking Grits
2 TBS Butter
3 TBS Honey
6 TBS Olive Oil
1 pound large Shrimp, shelled and deveined
Fresh ground Black Pepper to taste

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • Roast the sweet potato in the oven until tender when pierced with a knife (about 45 to 60 minutes)
  • Peel the sweet potato and puree the flesh in a food processor (or mini chopper)
  • Heat the canola oil in a medium saucepan, add the shallot and cook until soft, 3 to 4 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds more.
  • Add the stock, milk, chipotle puree and salt... bring to a boil.
  • Slowly whisk in the grits.  Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Stir in the sweet potato puree, stirring frequently for 5 to 10 minutes, until smooth and thickened.
  • Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter  and honey to taste.  Cover and keep warm.
  • Sauté the shrimp in preheated olive oil for just a few minutes.  DO NOT OVERCOOK.  Season with salt and pepper.
Spoon the grits on a plate, top with the simple sautéed shrimp and serve with a sauce of your choice.  In the MEAS GRILL Cookbook, Bobby gives recipes for a Green Onion-Cilantro sauce and a Red Chili Oil sauce.  If you make them both, you get a little "Heaven and Hell" sauce choices, and they look great on a plate...

Green Onion Cilantro Sauce...

1 cup sliced Green Onions (white and green parts)
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh Cilantro
1/4 cup Rice Wine Vinegar
1 TBS Dijon Mustard
Pinch Salt and Pepper
1/2 cup Canola Oil

Combine everything except the oil in a food processor and pulse until smooth.  With the motor running, add the oil slowly until emulsified.


Red Chili Oil...

2 red Jalapeño Pepper, roasted, with the skin, seeds and white parts removed
1 cup Canola Oil

Back to the mini chopper and blend away!


This was a terrific meal.  Actually, except for the roasting of the sweet potato, the whole thing came together in less than 30 minutes.  You can make the sauces while the grits are cooking, and the shrimp is about as fast to cook as you can get.

But really, it's not so much the speed that makes it a winner.  What an incredible combination of tastes.  the sauces are sweet and spicy, as well as hot and flavorful.  The shrimp are simple, but the taste shines with the simple salt and pepper seasonings.  But the sweet potato grits are destined to become a favorite.

Here's a few extra photos to give you an idea of the very easy process...


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Your Blog Deserves FREE Olive Oil

Click the photo of premium gourmet Olive Oils and Vinegars
to see details about the COOKING CONTEST
Because "Your Blog Deserves FREE Olive Oil" partners with  O Olive Oil for November FUN

Olive Oil, We all use it, we all could use more AND we all would like a chance to try a premium gourmet oil for FREE!  O Olive Oils are different and better than the run of the mill.  Pressed replaces infused for a deeper, richer taste; perfect for salads, raw vegetables and light sauteed dishes!

With a combined prize pool of over $600, you will want to be a part of the contest and the FUN!

Click the Money to see the details of  our Cooking Contest
Over $500 in FREE Gourmet Olive Oil and Vinegars to be awarded

And speaking of "deserves", please take a minute and drop by O Olive Oils Facebook page.  They are sponsoring the contest and deserved to be "Liked" for their involvement.  Just click the word balloon and you will get a chance to view their page and Like them (and let them know you saw them on!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Happy Halloween from THE Cul de Sac IRON CHEF

That's me

These are my Cutlery... Knife fork and spoon (Wife and neighbors)

And the secret ingredient was BACON

We had over 300 neighborhood kids come by and 100 of the Mom and dad escorts enjoyed a piece of Chocolate-Bacon Buttons.
1 pound of bacon
1 bag of Chocolate chips

Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

My last Smoke of the Season - Ribs and Pork Shoulder, not Marlboros

You know it's a good table when people want to photograph the food before they eat!

Yesterday a dozen of our friends and family stopped by for an Indian Summer day of BBQ!

Weather was perfect, mid 70's and the food... Well, you decide...

Pulled Pork Sandwich...



Ala My Carolina Kitchen

Pickled Red Onions

AN Italian warm Potato Salad
But don't you love the Texas shaped serving dish!

My now FAMOUSRaspberry Chipotle Carolina style
Pulled Pork 

Faux Reese's Cups

It was a good day in teh Cul de Sac!

Oh, and I made beans too, but didn;t take any photos.